There was one book that I read in January that affected me emotionally enough that I did something that I have never, in all my years of being a book lover, ever done. I sat down and wrote an email to the author telling her how her novel impacted me. Oh yeah… I really did.
How far will a mother go to save her child?
Ten years ago, Ruby Leander was a drifting nineteen-year-old who made a split-second decision at an Oklahoma rest stop. Fast forward nine years: Ruby and her daughter Lark live in New Mexico. Lark is a precocious, animal loving imp, and Ruby has built a family for them with a wonderful community of friends and her boyfriend of three years. Life is good. Until the day Ruby reads a magazine article about parents searching for an infant kidnapped by car-jackers. Then Ruby faces a choice no mother should have to make. A choice that will change both her and Lark’s lives forever.
January 28th 2011
I feel like I can call you by your first name because I assume I already know you, having just finished reading “Mothers and Other Liars.” Authors always give away a part of themselves when they tell a story; they reveal a part of who they are. Open themselves up to outsiders who assume to see a glimpse of the author from what they write. It’s impossible, I think, to not do so. Otherwise, how can an author write a story that has any emotional power? But that means you get emails from complete strangers who seem to think they can call you by your first name.
I started your novel last night and finished it not long after 2pm. The power of your work has actually brought me to my computer to write to you; something I never do. But I knew as the image of Ruby watching Lark and Charlie at the beach danced in my imagination I was going to have to write to you.
Because you managed to make me cry, not once, but twice.
Last night I cried as I read of the separation of mother and daughter when Lark was to be ‘returned’ to the Tinsdales care. Lark’s mouth opens, forms one silent word, “Mama!” Then she disappears behind the shutting door. I think that maybe my heart split in two at that scene. And today, as I was looking after my own daughter (who turns six next month and is home sick from school,) I cried once again as I read the baptism/goodbye ceremony for Charlie before the social worked pried Ruby’s fingers one by one off her son to take him away. Cried perhaps isn’t strong enough a word. Maybe sobbed would be a better, more honest description of my reaction. The tears rolled down my cheeks and no matter how many times I reminded myself “it’s only a story” like I do when my daughter gets upset over things in books or on television, the pain I felt for the situation was real. And that, Amy, is when I knew you were a story teller with a rare but precious skill.
So I just wanted to write and say thank you for sharing your story with me. Truly it was a lucky last minute grab off the bookshelf. I loved it so much and can’t wait to read your next novel!
I didn’t stop to edit what I wrote three or four times like I normally would. Because I knew that if I took too long contemplating about what I was writing I would have contemplated myself right out of writing to Amy Bourret at all. And I must confess that as a wannabe writer, I like the idea of telling someone else when they had got it right by me. Of telling someone that the hard work of sitting behind a desk, or in front of a blank piece of paper had been worth it, because someone else saw and valued the vision. So imagine my surprise when I received this back the very next day….
Thank you so much Courtney! Writing happens in such a vacuum that feedback like yours really means a lot to me.
Obviously I’m so inspired by this success ( getting a reply) that I may very well take the risk of writing to another author whose book I truly adore again because WOW. A real life published author who writes back to fan mail. Cool.